“Remember the day, Shabbat, to set it apart for G-d. You have six days to labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Shabbat for Adonai your G-d. On it, you are not to do any kind of work – not you, or your son or your daughter, not your male or female servant, not your livestock, and not the foreigner staying with you inside the gates of your property. For in six days Adonai made heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them; but on the seventh day He rested. This is why Adonai blessed the day, Shabbat, and separated it for Himself.” (Sh’mot/Exodus 20:8-11)
Since moving to the beautiful Black Hills, we have certainly done a lot of work, mainly painting the interior and decorating our new house. In addition, our regular jobs have kept us fairly busy as well; enough to make us physically exhausted if we kept going and going for months on end. Thank G-d for Shabbat!
From the very first day we moved into the house, we made a point of observing Shabbat regardless of whether our boxes were unpacked or whether dining room walls were painted or not, or whether we had a table to sit at and chairs to sit on. The very first Shabbat meal in our new house was eaten off paper plates, while standing up at the kitchen counter. Still, that wasn’t what mattered. What mattered most was that we set that day apart from the rest of the week and got our minds off our daily chores and jobs, off the things that needed to be done and things that we left half-undone. It was time for restoration and relaxation in addition to the time set aside to concentrate on things eternal as opposed to fleeting routines of everyday life. Just the physical benefits of those days set aside to rest would have been a blessing enough.
In this day and age of constant rat race, physical rest is hard to come by no matter what one’s age, employment status, or living arrangements. Mental rest is even harder to achieve with constant noise of life (and numerous electronic devices) vying for our attention every minute of every day. Regardless of one’s faith and/or beliefs, it is important to set one day a week aside and remove ourselves from trappings of our modern culture. Even science has proven the fact that humans are at their most productive if they have a chance to rest one day out of seven.
So, try this little experiment. For a few months, make it a point to set one day aside for rest, and make a note of how you feel during the week as opposed to weeks when you don’t get to rest. Depending on your lifestyle and your beliefs, either use that one day to spend some time thanking G-d for all the blessings and studying His word, or – if your lifestyle is more secular – simply go out for a walk, a bike ride, visit with friends, stop to smell the roses… you get the picture. I guarantee you will feel better afterwards.
As for our little family, we make it a point to start each Shabbat with a special meal since we often don’t get to eat well balanced meals during the week. Springtime has made the task of preparing that meal quite an exercise in restraint as there are so many wonderful, fresh products to choose from. Thanks to our friends from Dakota Thyme, we always have challah on our Shabbat table, even if I don’t get to bake one, and thanks to Matt from Battle Creek Gardens, there is no shortage of fresh vegetables. Tom from Pleasant Valley Farm supplies us with meat, and fruit of the vine comes to our table from Prairie Berry Winery. Each time we sit down to our Erev Shabbat dinner, we feel so tremendously blessed to have been directed to all these wonderful people and businesses who help us with our quest to consume only locally and naturally produced items as often as possible.
Last Shabbat was a veritable feast with Serbian style zucchini stew (recipe for the stew can be found here https://hartsd.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/zucchini-stew/), fresh romaine lettuce salad, and freshly picked strawberries for dessert. Add to that tasty challah and a glass of red wine, and we couldn’t have asked for a better springtime Shabbat meal.
What do you do on the seventh day? Feel free to share in the comments on this post your tips and the things that make you feel especially blessed.